Investments vs. Expenses - What's to be done?
So! You’re a professional voice over artist, and that requires that you have competitive equipment to compete in a competitive field. So what’s to do? What’s to be done? Do you get your equipment on eBay, craigslist, Amazon, elsewhere? Do you spend a little bit money more money and go through Sweetwater? B&H? Do you buy ProTools? Or do you drop all the way back down to Audacity? There are so many choices to make in order to run a successful voiceover business and have what you need to be able to produce good quality voiceovers as a professional voice over artist.
Professional Voice over Artist Hardware
Let’s talk about hardware first. From my own personal experience, I like to spend a decent amount of money and get a huge bang for my buck. I don’t like to spend a massive amount for high-end software that I may ultimately be disappointed with. The same is true for hardware. purchases.
I don’t want to buy a $1000 Sennheiser MKH 416 mic (although I would love to have one someday) because I can do pretty much just as much with a microphone that is $400-$500 less and still get tremendous broadcast quality. So personally, I settled on the Neumann TLM 102 mic. And it does fantastically! One day, I may spring for the Sennheiser, but it is not a necessity quite yet.
And then as far as a preamp, I got the Grace M101 preamp. For my interface, I got a Scarlet FocusRite 2x2.
For my reference monitors, I really wanted to have good reference monitors and I didn’t mind buying a little bit more higher end monitors, so I got Yamaha HS5's.
Beyond that, I did need a good quality shock mount for my Neumann mic, and I needed good cabling and I needed a good studio.
All told, the studio was the most expensive thing at $1800 for a custom build.
That in itself is where I start, and that’s where my audio dies if it’s not good. You really do need to have a tremendous environment for recording your professional voice over audio, or it could be all for naught. That is truly where it starts. so after you factor that in, my mic was 600-ish dollars, my reference monitors were about $400, the peripheral equipment like the preamp and my Scarlet for another $400. Cables and sundry and all of that were maybe another $100. Not too shabby. I already had a good decent working computer that could handle processing not just raw audio but audio that was laden with all kinds of EQ and plug-ins in order to have it sound professional voice over broadcast ready.
Professional Voice over Artist Software
On the software side, I started out in video editing - so I was very familiar with Sony Vegas Pro (which I already had), and I knew that it came with a decent audio interface for editing audio as well, so I decided to just use that. It has its pros and its cons, and of late, it has had more cons then pros. So I moved on to iZotope RX6 Advanced, but found that it was a little slow at real-time editing, and I needed to do processing after all of my material has been recorded. All of that takes time.
So, finally, after a little bit more searching, I landed on Reaper. As a PC user probably until I die - just simply due to the fact that that’s where I started and that’s what is most familiar - I absolutely LOVE Reaper. For $60, it’s worth $6000 to me. The capabilities are tremendous: it is very robust software with tremendous functionality potential, and it is incredibly fast. FX and plug-ins render in real time and I’m not sitting around processing a bunch of audio after I’ve recorded it which just takes forever. I absolutely love Reaper, and it is fantastic. For the price, you would do very well to get reaper if you’re on a PC.
If you’re on a Mac, many people swear by ProTools although it is expensive. You can use something as simple as GarageBand on a Mac, or TwistedWave works as well, and then of course there is Audacity. With so many choices, I would highly suggest downloading free demos of each, so that you can get familiar with what the software operates and feels like. Of course, on both platforms, you have the ability to make a monthly purchase to use software like Adobe Audition, which is an industry standard, and it should be: it’s super good and robust software. Audition works for both PC and Mac. I did not want to make a monthly payment ad nauseum for my software, so I elected to simply buy it outright in the case of iZotope, Reaper, Sony and Vegas. But that’s just my choice. If you are comfortable working on a subscription basis, feel free to make a monthly payment for Adobe Audition which runs around $30 a month.
Professional Voice over Artist - SourceConnect
Beyond that, there’s additional functionality-based software that you can purchase such as SourceConnect which is another $30 a month subscription, or you can buy the Standard version for $650, and that allows you to be slightly more competitive in the field because you have the ability to record and provide the files immediately to the client with them on the line… They receive it in nearly real time. And - often times you don’t have to do any sort of processing on the audio in the end, because they just take the raw wave files and do everything with them on their own end. Very little work for not a huge investment.
And that’s the keyword here: Investment.
Professional Voice over Artist - Planning for Success
if you really want to be a successful professional voice over artist – or in any entrepreneurial pursuit for that matter, you need to look at expenses as investments, not as expenses. An expense is something that gets you from A to B. An investment is something that has the potential to get you from A-to-Z eventually. It’s buying the higher priced item because it’s more powerful and will last longer than the lower priced item. It’s paying that little bit extra because you know that this will last you a long time. Investments also have a psychological effect in that you are looking far more long-term than an expense looks into the future. An expense is reactive; whereas investment is proactive. It’s looking to the long term. Anytime I make money from a voiceover job, I’m thinking how can I invest that back into my business and graduate to the next level of competitiveness or the next level of functionality, or the next level of proficiency. Ultimately, I want to be one of the key players in the professional voice over artist industry, and I can only do that by treating my business as such: a business. Not a hobby.
Once you switch from the expense mindset to the investment mindset, you'll be set. And believe me, it goes without saying that I know all too well that so many voiceover artists start and stop at the very beginning because of all the startup costs. But once you make that mental switch from expense to investment, you’ll begin to see the long term, and you’ll begin to see long-term goals and shoot for them rather than simply handling short term needs.
I believe in you! You can do this. Treat your expenses as investments into your business and you’ll grow.
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